Charles Colson

Mar 06, 2003 02:51 AM EST

Watergate changed Colson's life...twice. As special counsel to Richard Nixon from 1969 to 1973, Colson was truly one of the president's men. It was Colson who set up the "Plumbers" unit that engaged in illegal wiretapping of Democratic headquarters at the Watergate apartment complex, triggering the scandal that was the administration's undoing. "I was known as the toughest of the Nixon tough guys," he says.

After Nixon's 1974 resignation, Colson-who'd pleaded guilty to obstruction of justice-served seven months at Maxwell Federal Prison in Georgia.

His experiences behind bars, combined with his new commitment to Christianity, set him on a new course.

Now 64, Colson is the founder and serves as chairman of Prison Fellowship Ministries, a Virginia-based counseling program that operates in more than 600 prisons nationwide. The program also helps inmates kick drug and alcohol addictions.

If they come to the program, they are looking to do something better with their lives. But we also believe that the Christian conversion, the faith element, is absolutely essential in getting them out of crime," Colson maintains.

Colson is also an active speaker and prolific book author who addresses a variety of subjects from a Christian viewpoint. "There was more than a little skepticism in Washington, D.C., when I announced that I had become a Christian," he notes. "But I wasn't bitter. I knew my task wasn't to convince my former political cronies of my sincerity."

By Albert H. Lee
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